Who is Dante Mullinix?

Dante Mullinix was a 2-year-old boy, born on September 21, 2015, to his mother Leah Mullinix. 

Photo submitted by his aunt Sarah Mullinix

According to Dante’s aunt Sarah, she described him as a very happy and goofy baby. She says that his smile and laugh were contagious.

“He was truly a little angel, his presence would light up the room. He was a little lover, he loved being held, even just sitting on your lap would make him happy and content” 

Despite Dante being a very happy child, he lived a very short painful life. 

Dante died on September 15, 2018, just days before his 3rd birthday. His cause of death was physical abuse and subdural hematoma (a brain bleed). Dante was also strangled and suffocated. He also had genital herpes. His death was ruled a homicide.

So how does a happy child’s life end so tragically?

What happened to Dante?

On September 6, 2018, Dante was left with 41-year-old Tyree Bowie, Leah’s boyfriend at the time. Dante’s mother Leah claimed she was suffering from migraines and needed to go to the hospital. Tyree dropped Leah off at the hospital approximately around 8:25 pm.

Leah Mullinix, Mother // Photo: York Daily

 According to reports and text messages we obtained, Tyree was heading to surprise Leah at the hospital when he gave Dante teddy graham cookies. Dante began to choke on the cookie and became unresponsive.

Tyree pulled over to perform CPR on Dante and even attempted to remove the cookie with his finger. Tyree called Leah and told her what happened and she told him to bring Dante to the hospital. Tyree drove Dante to the hospital and dropped him off around 10:23 pm.

Upon arriving at the hospital Dante was unresponsive. Dante never regained consciousness and was transferred to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, where he was placed on life support. 

September 11, 2018, Dante had some form of brain activity. Staff worked with Leah to decide rather or not to remove him from life support. Leah decided to remove him.

Dante was ruled brain dead and removed from life support on September 15. Dante’s official cause of death was from subdural hematoma (a brain bleed) and abuse. The report also mentions that Dante had genital herpes, marks on his genitals, along with broken ribs, a battered scrotum, bite marks on his arms, and a lacerated liver and pancreas.

Choking on a cookie couldn’t possibly cause all of the injuries that Dante endured.

Leading up to Dante’s last days

On August 29, 2018, Leah had a conversation with Tyree asking him for a ride to the hospital because of “puss on his d*ck”. Tyree said he noticed the sores on Dante when Leah brung him to his mom’s house to shower.

Text messages between Leah and Tyree

On September 2, 2018, Dante was seen at the hospital by a safe nurse after many CPS referrals about abuse. A head contusion was noticed on Dante during this visit. 

Leah told Tyree that Donte got the head contusion from banging his own head against the wall.

Text messages between Leah and Dante

Earlier that day before the appointment, Tyree expressed concern about Dante.

Dante had many bruises that all were in the stages of healing.

Natalie a nurse practitioner wrote a report that mentioned that she suspects trauma and neglect. Natalie felt Dante should have been taken into custody. Despite dozens of bruises, and the recommendation from the nurse, a CYS caseworker marked Dante as safe and he was returned to the care of his mother.

Caseworker report

York County Office of Children, Youth & Families (YCOCYF) received a child protective service referral regarding failure to provide medical treatment.

The text between Leah and Tyree

At this point, Dante would not stop crying and Leah became frustrated.

the conversation continued between Leah and Tyree

On September 4, 2018, YCOCYF met with Leah to discuss services, but she was not open to it at the time.

On September 5, 2018, there was an emergency custody hearing scheduled for Dante. Sarah Mullinix filed for emergency custody in August, due to constant neglect. Leah did not show up to the hearing, she claimed she had a flat tire.

 

September 6, 2018, is the day Dante was last seen alive and breathing on his own. Earlier this day Dante was at the doctor yet again.

Later that evening, Tyree cared for Dante while Leah was at the hospital. He texted Leah to let her know that he fell and injured himself.

The above message was sent moments before Dante choked on a Teddy Graham.

Tyree and Dante on September 6, the night he choked

Tyree was on his way to the hospital to surprise Leah, on the way there he gave Dante Teddy Graham’s and he began to choke.

Dante in a coma

Tyree attempted to save Dante. Later that night he expressed to Leah how awful he felt. Take a look at the conversation between Leah and Tyree from later that night.

Who is to blame?

At this point, there is a lot of people involved and yet no one was able to save Dante. Between May 2017 and August 2018, Adams County Children & Youth services received multiple calls alleging inadequate food/clothing, concerns about Leah’s mental health, inappropriate discipline, inadequate hygiene, homelessness, and inappropriate caregivers.

Leah was living in a domestic violence shelter that Tyree helped her and Dante get into. Leah was telling everyone including Tyree that her ex-boyfriend Hector who goes by the name of “Holiday” was abusing her. Holiday addressed Leah and her allegations of abuse.

Text between Leah and Tyree
FB messages between Leah and Holiday
FB messages between Leah and Holiday continued

In May 2017 the referral was accepted but closed in October 2017. Reports from 2018 were rejected and June & August 2018 reports were screened out.

During the CYS investigation, Leah denied Dante ever being harmed during altercations between her and Holiday. She made claims that he never hit Dante. She also sent messages to a friend on Facebook stating that she never left marks on Dante she just yelled at him. Take a look below.

” Mother denied child was ever harmed during altercations between her and Hector. Mother said Hector would raise hand but never hit child. Child would observe Hector yelling at mom.”

Did CYS drop the ball?

On Dante’s September 1st visit at York Hospital, over 20 bruises were documented.

Dante had bruises to his face, neck, arms, stomach, legs, genitals, and feet. Leah claims she did not know where the bruises came from. Leah told the nurse the bruises were bug bites according to the documents we obtained. The nurse noted that Dante did not appear comfortable.

There were also concerns about bald spots in his head. Leah claimed that Dante had got to a razor in a friend’s car and cut his own hair. Leah told the doctor he got the bruise from banging his head on surfaces, she wanted him evaluated for Autism.

What does it take to remove a child from their home? Dante had several doctor trips within a few days, dozens of bumps, bruises, and sores. Along with dozens of reports. Why did the York County CYS caseworker mark Dante as safe?

“If it had been handled right that little boy wouldn’t have been dead,” Dante’s grandfather, Larry Mullinix, said.

Child youth services are supposed to be an advocate for children’s safety. This wouldn’t be the first time CPS/CYS has dropped the ball that could have saved a life. Gabriel Fernandez was let down after his teacher and others made numerous reports. Gabriel was killed by his mother and her boyfriend. Charges were made against the social workers but were later dropped.

CYS should be held accountable when they fail to remove a child from a dangerous situation. The nurse stated on Dante’s paperwork that she suspected neglect and abuse and that he should be removed. Why was this not taken seriously?

“He should have been taken. He might would have still been alive if they stepped in,” Sarah said.

“Well I think when they get these reports they should not ignore them. If there’s bruising or something on a child, not a rash, but bruises, it ought to be thoroughly investigated. Because there’s wrongdoing going on somewhere,” Larry added.

Guilty or Not?

When CYS receives many reports of abuse, it’s natural to accuse the mother of wrong doing. Days after Dante’s death, Leah spoke to reporters. She stated that the allegations were false.

“These were false allegations, okay? CYS, they’re like the police, they do their investigation. That’s what they do. So you’re more than less saying CYS is stupid when they’re not,” Leah said.

Leah’s family as well as Tyree’s family both have their suspicions of Leah and her behavior before and after Dante’s death.

Sarah spoke with a few body language specialists. The specialists all said that Leah is lying and that her actions don’t match the situation. 

Specialist Susan Constantine also felt that Leah is suspect. She does not feel her emotions are consistent with a grieving mom due to smirking and smiling.

Both specialists said she shows signs of duping delight. Duping delight is a particular micro expression a person will display that betrays a sense of enjoyment they are getting out of controlling and deceiving another person. It is a very important expression to watch out for in catching dishonesty in a person.

Leah got pregnant in September 2018, the same month Dante died. That child was taken from her, and she is currently pregnant again and due this November. CYS will also be taking that child from her. Looks like this time around they don’t want to make the same mistakes they did with Dante.

Leah accused Tyree of killing Dante. She previously told The York Dispatch that her family is blinded by their hate for her. She said that police and prosecutors reviewed the evidence and believe that Tyree is to blame for Dante’s death.

Leah’s behavior has been a constant concern to her sister Sarah. Sarah has dedicated much of her time and money seeking justice for Dante. I sat down and spoke with Sarah and she informed me that Dante did not get the funeral he deserved. Actually, the family wasn’t even allowed to attend.

Leah collected money for Dante’s funeral. I don’t know what she did with it because the funeral was paid for, along with the casket. Dante didn’t have any flowers or a gravestone. My childhood friend donated the money to get him a gravestone.

Evidence and Charges

Tyree Bowie was charged with 1st and 3rd-degree murder of Dante Mullinix and child endangerment. Leah Mullinix was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Evidence shows that tan residue was taken from the steering wheel originated from the teddy graham cookies which would be consistent with Tyree’s story. Tyree said he attempted to remove the cookie from Dante’s throat, which would explain the residue being on the steering wheel and on the driver’s door.

Leah is currently free and her pre-trial is set for October 14, 2020.

Tyree has been held at the York County jail without bail since 2018, and he is awaiting trial. He has an upcoming status hearing on November 24, 2020.

In Summary

2-year-old Dante was a happy child. Although he was non-verbal doesn’t mean he didn’t have anything to say. His family had to listen to him with more than just their ears. Dante was a lover, he expressed himself by cuddling in your lap. 

It was very clear that Dante’s aunt Sarah loved and cared for Dante a whole lot. She did everything she could to try and get Dante to safety.

Mandated reporters, family, and friends all reported abuse and neglect to CYS. Those reports were ignored. The nurse practitioner recommended that Dante be removed from the home, the caseworker marked him safe instead. The system failed to protect Dante.

“I think there needs to be justice for Dante. He slipped through the cracks,” Larry said.

Tyree met Leah and Dante and instantly wanted to help them. He helped get her into a shelter and provided transportation when needed. Tyree cared a lot about Dante according to Dante’s family and his family. It was obvious from the messages that he truly loved him.

Dante was being abused long before Tyree entered the picture. Is the York County Police Department pinning this murder on an innocent man? The family seems to think so. They do not understand why they are dismissing so much evidence that helps Tyree’s case.

Both families have made support pages on Facebook where you can follow this case. Justice For Dante and Justice For Tyree.

“I’m going to pray to God that this situation does not happen to anybody ever again. Because you can’t ask for anything worse than that, that’s going on, to losing a child to neglect and basically murder,” Larry said.

Leah has not made comments on the charges brought against her. Detective Hower who has been assigned to this case was not directly able to be reached. CYS declined to comment on the case.

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